Suppose you need to shoot a video of yourself speaking. Even if you have no equipment other than a smartphone, here are five ways to maximize quality:
Light your face. If there is a window, it should be in front of you (out of view) or to the side — never behind you. A desk lamp just behind the phone camera will help light your face. Better yet, use two desk lamps, at the 10 and 2 positions.
A shaky camera is distracting and can even make your audience nauseous. Stabilize your phone camera. If you don’t have a tripod, set it on books, boxes, etc.
3. Camera angle
- Set the camera at your eye level.
- If you are alone, use the phone’s rear-facing camera (on-screen) so you know exactly what the shot looks like.
- Minimize distractions in the background.
- If you wear eyeglasses, angle your camera to minimize any distracting glare or reflection.
- Use landscape mode (horizontal), never portrait mode.
- Don’t put the camera too close to your face, or too far away. Let your head and shoulders comfortably fill most of the frame, with some room to spare above and to the sides. The shot should feel comfortable, as if you are sitting across a table from someone — not up in their face, not half a room away.
- Maintain eye contact with the camera, which equates to eye contact with your audience.
- Audio quality is even more important than video quality. Find a quiet place to film. This will usually be indoors in a room that does not have a lot of echo. Minimize background noise: fans, heating and cooling vents, music, traffic, birds and insects. All will be more distracting than you realize. Be aware of background noise that may occur as you are filming, and pause if necessary.
- Put your phone on airplane mode while filming, to avoid calls and messages.
- Use an external microphone if possible. If you do not have one, check your phone’s earpieces. They may have one built in. If not, you also can record the audio on a second phone, positioned much closer to you than the camera phone. These can be synced later.
Here’s a good video that illustrates some of these tips.
Additional phone tips
- Film in the highest resolution possible. Check the settings for your camera app. If 4K is an option, choose that. 1080p (full HD) is the next step down, and 720p is the minimum option.
- Do not zoom by “pinching” your fingers on the screen. This lowers the resolution. Keep the normal focal distance and, if adjustment is needed, just move the phone closer to or farther from your face.
- With your face in the frame, record about 10 seconds before and after you speak. This helps with editing.